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South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt overjoyed after being named in Aboriginal All-Star team

NATHAN Merritt remembers the spot being right across the road from Souths Leagues. No barbed wire. No jagged metal, either. Just up, over and get stuck in. "Yeah, me and my cousins, we were always climbing that fence at Redfern Oval when we were little," Merritt recalls, grinning. "But back in those days it really was one of only two options ... footy or the PCYC." reports Nick Walshaw in the The Daily Telegraph on 20 November 2009.


Nathan Merritt

Inspirational story...South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt was yesterday named in the Indigenous All Stars team and he couldn't wipe the smile from his face. Picture: Phil Hillyard. Source: The Daily Telegraph


Of all the inspirational stories that mark today's announcement of the inaugural Indigenous All Stars team, none tops that belonging to Nathan Deane Merritt.

To this Rabbitohs flyer who counts Snoop Dog among his legion of fans. Who appears in music videos and works as a teacher's aide. A fella who causes the NSWRL phones to run hot whenever he misses City selection.

Yep, Merritt is proof that the battler can still do good.

And while he has never spoken a word in his ancestral tongue, Merritt remains the proud descendant of a Walgett tracker whose name is legend out where the dirt stirs red. Rabbitohs legend Eric Robinson is his grandfather. Saints hero Ricky Walford an uncle.

And when you walk him through that old neighbourhood like The Daily Telegraph did yesterday, well, just watch the kids come running. "Which is why this opportunity to represent the Indigenous All Stars, to represent my people, is so important," Merritt says.

"Because every time we play we're representing our communities, our heritage. So this game is really all about recognising them."

When it was put to him recently that his army of fans, who hammer the NSWRL phone lines whenever he misses selection, would now be his greatest ally in voting for the historic Indigenous line-up, Merritt just shrugged, smiled and said: "Really? I had no idea. That makes me feel a bit better, actually."

Early yesterday he received the official green light via an NRL email.

"And this game, this opportunity - it's undoubtedly the highlight of my career," Merritt continues.

"I mean, I've always considered myself extremely lucky to have grown up around Redfern and Waterloo. To have then gone on to represent my district.

"And that's why I think it's so important that young Aboriginals have Aboriginal role models. That they can look at someone like me and say, 'If he made it from here ... well, so can I'."